In this episode of In Reality, recorded at the Collision conference in Toronto, host Eric Schurenberg joins Melanie Smith, Head of the Digital Analysis Unit at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue–an independent non-profit dedicated to reversing the tide of polarization, extremism, and disinformation worldwide.
The topics in this episode: how the threat of radicalized violence has shifted from foreign actors to domestic ones; why (at least before January 6th) it was so difficult to convince policymakers that domestic extremism was the more serious threat; how domestic extremists prey on the same set of human insecurities to radicalize their targets as Islamic extremists; why Instagram is a favorite tool of disinformation promoters and Pinterest isn’t; and which demographic groups are most likely to spread harmful false information unwittingly.
From Smith: “I am optimistic that we can contain disinformation over a 10-year time frame, but I am concerned that things will get worse in the next five years. Elections tend to inflame disinformation, and that, in some places, can easily lead to violence. You have to realize that there are interests that want to seize the opportunity to deepen the divisions in our society.”